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Between the Traditional and Modern Almajiri in Northern Nigeria

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Between the traditional and modern almajiri in northern Nigeria

By: Yusuf Adamu

The Almajiri system has been in practice since time immemorial in northern Nigeria. People from the northwest and north central travelled hundreds of kilometres to fine Islamic education for their children in the far northeast, and Borno state happens to be the centre for Islamic studies. At that time, the Almajiri (a person seeking knowledge) is seen and respected as one chosen divinely to study and keep certain religious tradition  teaching.

Traditionally, the almajiri is not a street beggar, a homeless person or persons with questionable character as seen in today’s system. Perhaps politics in northern Nigeria has changed a lot of things in the way and manner the almajiri is perceived. Certainly there are changes in the way and manner the modern almajiri is seen differently from those we used to know while growing up as children in Kaduna in the 60s.

From what I can recall, the people from Borno have been practicing what we called the Madrasa, where people from far and near brings their wards to learn and study the Holy Quran in the most dignifying way. People from Kano, Katsina, and as far as Sokoto brings their children to a teacher or Malam and it must be a person they know and have certain association with. They hand over children to them so that these teachers will teach these children the way of Islam through the study of the Quran. These Children like any other child lives a descent life and practice what they are being taught. They do not roam the street or engage in an unholy way. But they are always around their Madrasatu unless engaged in some labour to keep the learning rolling.

Of course! These children also work for their livelihoods through farming. They are usually engaged in farming for their teachers. This is also where they feed. Their movements and activities are being monitored and controlled by their teachers and at the end of their studies they go back to their various states to become useful to their families, immediate environments and states from which they came.

A lot of leaders from Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and the rest of the north, who are  important personalities in Nigeria today, have gone through the Madrasatu system. Some of them are big politician, business men and respected Quranic teachers or Ulamas. We have a lot of them in country, and others are making waves in Niger, Chad, Cameroon and the central African republic.

In the 60s, while growing up, for those who are in Maiduguri or rather when you visited Borno, there is this Islamic family system in place, which you would notice, a situation whereby food cooked in various houses are brought out and people eat in group to show love and brotherliness without regards to who is eating the food so long as you are hungry and come to eat food – you are always welcomed. Today, that system is gone – a history and story only being told to children like the almajiri system of those days.

My elder brother was taken to Maiduguri and subsequently move to the village from Kaduna to go and learn as well as study the Quran. He was never said to be roaming streets or begging for food to eat or doing other uncalled assignment or duties but devotion to the calling and the will of Allah upon his life as almajiri who is studying the Quran in a traditionally, acceptable and respected way.

The situation today with the almajiri system or what we called the modern day almajiri system is pathetic and calls for concern. Everything has changed, everything keeps deteriorating by the day. The situation is getting alarming with constant claims and counter claims on the system of almajiri education in the north. Recently, issues with Covid-19 and the almajiri child calls for serious concern on national debat. The question remains, what is the future of the almajiri child in modern day Nigeria? The government has to come in and intervene, however, this most not also create or add burden to state governments who are already burden with a lot of problems with very little resources to take care of the needs.

This is the time, the federal government comes up with special interventions not only for the almajiri child but also for other children facing the same fate like the almajiri child in other parts or the country. A special project to fund the system in the north as well as look at other problems facing other part of the country and have their own checks to strike a balance. There is need to create special fund from the federal account to coordinate and control the almajiri school. This must be done under the supervision of the state government and I believe with states like Borno and the demonstrative act of governance shown by the present administrator more would be achieved.

In the north, the state governments can also contribute to the almajiri school by providing land for this and other purposes. Also, a study of how other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and India are doing in their own country where Madrasatu system is still in existence.

The University of Madina is an Islamic school where people go to learn or study the Quran. People should be able to see the difference between Islamic studies and the almajiri system of education and also distinguish between traditional almajirai we know and the modern day almajirai that are associated with evil vises in the northern Nigeria.

* Yusuf Adamu is the former political adviser to ex-Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima

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Opinion

Educational development in Yobe And Fika old students Association

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Educational Development in Yobe and Fika old students association

By Abba Dukawa

YOBE state had its own bitter taste of the Boko Haram insurgency, which practically destroyed many schools in the state, immediately on the day Governor Mai Mala Buni took over the affairs of the state, he had unveiled his administration’s commitments in improving primary and secondary education in the state. During his inauguration speech on May 29, declared a state of emergency on primary and secondary education in the state. Its apt to quote him , I Hereby Declare A State Of Emergency On Primary And Secondary Education In The State, To Build A Solid, Vibrant And Robust Foundation For The Development Of Education. Government Would As A Matter Of Deliberate Policy Continue To Provide The Necessary Support To Move Education In The State To Greater Heights.”

This declaration declare a state of emergency on state education is an admission that things are not where they are supposed to be. It means that the familiar perception of the problems that confront the state and must be creatively challenged.

To be fair government cannot be completely blame for poor educational facilities; but the communities and Old Students association, in they own right, has a vital role to play in the supporting alma mater while communities also nedd to support government efforts in , delivery and improvement of education.

Politics aside there is need for Old students association need to pay back what the government offered them during the good days instead of politicize alleged lack of decent educational facilities in some schools in the state.

HMB’s administration recorded tremendous achievements greatly in health care delivery to schools, roads, agriculture in spite of the security challenges in Yobe state. Yobe State is home to about a third of Nigeria’s 13.2 million out-of-school children. In order to improve and encourage pupil’s enrolment in schools in the state HMB’s administration partner with the Federal Government for the implementation of the Home Grown Feeding Programme.

The administration has made a significant landmark in revolutionising the educational sector in the state Buni convened the state’s first education summit to proffered solutions to the sector past track his administration goal in the development of the state education sectors.

Like it or not the administration has increased school enrolment in the state, Some structures burnt down by the Boko Haram insurgents renovated, establish two model primary schools and two model junior secondary schools in each of the state three senatorial districts to expand access to education by the school age.

Hundreds of schools have so far been rehabilitate, new ones in the local government councils affected by the insurgency and other local government area of the state have been constructed in line with the state of emergency declared by the administration on education. Also new Model schools were constructed in Damaturu, Gashua, Potiskum, Geidam, Nguru and Buni Yadi all Buni’s administration effort to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning.

Thousands teachers have been trained and retrained to enhance manpower requirements of the schools and thousands fresh teachers has been employed despite state with lean financial resources. administration procured and distributed over N1billion text books, laboratory equipment and chemicals. Classroom and office furniture were procured and distributed to schools across the state. State higher institutions also not left out in spite mountainous challenges facing the state, the administration has greatly support the state owned tertiary institutions to be centres of academic excellence, and also to produce adequate, trained and qualified manpower to serve the state and beyond.

In view of the great loss suffered by the education sector from insurgency, the administration is determined to move the State away from an educationally disadvantaged to an educationally prosperous one. Buni’s administration already partner and seek for special intervention from the Federal Ministry of Education, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET Fund), International Organizations to support Yobe state government in its commitment to rebuilding education in the State.

In my view, on recent video posted on social media by Fika Government Secondary Old Boy on School facilities; is nothing but looking for cheap popularity. In deal society, communities and Old Students Association are complementing govenment’s efforts, in providing educational facilities in their immediate environment like what peoples seeing in the southern part of the country. It should be a good for Fika Old Students Associations to be bipartisan not to be critical to government efforts. It would be a great insensitivity for them to blame the state government on decay of school facilities. What support they offered to their alma Mater in they capacities as Old Boy of Fika Governor Buni’s deserve commendation for his concern on education, especially at the all levels.

To be fair without Government alone cannot provide educational facilities to all state own schools as there is need for total support of School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) and Old Students association, in every communities. Fika Old Students Associations and other alike Old Boys forgot even before HMB secession to power in May 29/2019, the insurgents has destroyed many educational facilities in the state making many pupils to abandon schools for their safety. In spite of this challange Governor Buni has displaying his political will toward the educational development across the state.

Undeniably Buni’s administration take proactive steps to rehabilitate and equip to standard at least one Science Secondary School in each senatorial zone in the State. Community and old students association has a vital role to play in the provision, educational facilities and improvement of education, peasants, government, traditional and religious leaders everyone has a stake in it.

Dukawa can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com.

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Opinion

APC Congress: Why There is No Descending Voice in Borno

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APC Congress: Why there is no descending voice in Borno

By: Yusuf Adamu

The All Progressive Congress, APC in Borno state has shone that unity among party members following the meeting held today at the multipurpose hall of the Maiduguri government house is a clear indication that the leadership under governor Babagana Umara Zulum is carrying everyone along on the decisions taking to shaping the future of the party in the state and to have others emulate the good example from Borno state.

The examplary demonstration of the stewardship of the governor Zulum administration and advices from party leaders like the former governor Senator Kashim Shettima, senators representing northern Borno – Abubakar Kyari and Senator Muhammed Ali Ndume of southern Borno as well as members of the house of representatives and stakeholders have spoken well of the party as it prepares for the coming Congress.

The outward demonstration of maturity and agreement that gives birth to peaceful meeting of party members is an indication that APC in Borno state has come of aged and standing as a true democracy. It also shows that, the governor has been leading the right way of leaders who are selfless in the discharge of their responsibilities.

The fact that there was no descending voice true out the cause of the meeting and even after is a positive indications that all those who are representing the party in leadership position both at the state and national levels has the stake of charismatic leadership that speaks volumes on the delivery of people trust and confidence repose on them.

The meeting has brought light to the cravings for equality among members and understanding among followership that makes APC thick under this democratic experience. The respect and total commitment exercise by members has gone steps further to bring out the best that any democratic governance can offer. This also has brought the fact that the consensus which was agreed upon today is heart warming and politically energizing is the making of a greater APC in Borno state.

  • Yusuf Adamu writes from Maiduguri

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Opinion

The Rot in Education Predated Governor Buni, By Hassan Gimba

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The Rot In Education Predated Governor Buni, by Hassan Gimba

I recently watched a video clip made by an old student of Fika Government Secondary School in which he showed how dilapidated the school is. It was first sent to me by a retired federal permanent secretary and later by a former minister of the federal republic. Among many others who sent the same clip to me is a friend who is a professor and a dean in Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi and another who is a state commander of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency. That means the video clip has gone viral.

Many of those who sent me the clip asked whether it was true. Some suggested I bring it to the notice of the Governor, His Excellency Mai Mala Buni. I appreciated all of them and thanked them for their belief and confidence that I would bring it to the governor’s notice.

I have not met and discussed it with the governor–yet–but I am sure he must have seen it by now. I am sure because I know he has his ears to the ground and has one of the best feedback mechanisms among the governors of the nation.

My take on the video is deep, as I explained to some of them who expected me to say something. Their unuttered query was like “being a journalist who knows the governor for ages and reports his activities, you must know something”. Therefore, tell them something without holding brief for those really responsible, I have to.

The rot in education in Yobe State has eaten deep over the years. Perhaps right from its creation. Anyone who listened to the video would attest to that. The videographer’s first sentence gave him out as someone who was unfortunate to go to a Yobe school in the 1990s, as he said, when education imparted was half-baked. Throughout his lamentations, his rendition suggested someone who needed further teaching to redo the WAEC in English, at least.

But people believe that once a message is conveyed, then language can be blown to smithereens. Well, his message was loud and clear, but our concern here is the quality of education he got in the 1990s. Meaning the poor quality of education in Yobe predated the emergence of Honourable Mai Mala Buni as the governor of the state.

Therefore, aware of the decay in the state of education, Governor Buni’s first act as governor, pronounced before he came down from the podium on the day of his inauguration, was the declaration of the State of Emergency on primary and secondary education. He followed that up by hosting an Education Summit on the 1st of July, after which he set up a Technical Committee under the chairmanship of Professor Malah Daura, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri.

To prove that it was not mere propaganda, that year he allocated to the education sector the largest share of N22.853b or 21.08%. In previous years education had very low allocations.

See attached graphs.

Reversing decomposition is not an effortless task. There are worse schools than Fika, in Yobe, unfortunately. Almost all the schools had not only dilapidated structures, but the absence of such when he took over. Typical examples are schools with structures meant for about 2000 but harbouring over 20,000 pupils.

However, from 2019 to date, he has rehabilitated and expanded many of the schools in the state. Fika and others in a similar state of disrepair are on the agenda and I am privileged to know that already the process for their rehabilitation has been kick-started. Meanwhile, he has built from scratch 14 new schools comprising seven mega and seven standard model schools, with each having 24 classrooms.

While the video clip is an eye-opener, it is also an indicator of how intense the atrophy in education in the state is and for how long.

But if we should be fair, the rot predated Governor Mai Mala Buni’s ascension. Again, to be truthful, he came intending to better education in the state and he has started.

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